Union Machine Shop in Ketchikan made us a beautiful anchor winch. Gorgeous. I'm in love with this winch. Twitterpated, really. Or possibly quite taken with the potential that it represents. This anchor winch is the key to accessing hundreds of remote bays, to days and nights securely anchored in Alaskan paradise. But we have to finish the installation first, and Union Machine is going to do a bunch of the work to make that happen. So off to Ketchikan it is.
Our first stop along the way is the cabin, where we found that the big cedar tree by the corner had fallen, causing some damage to that end of the cabin. On the way back we should have time to assess things and plan repairs on the structure.
The next morning we checked weather and then cruised through Ernest Sound, south through Clarence Strait, and into Tongass Narrows. It was a nine hour run from the cabin to Ketchikan. Three foot seas most of the way, and four footers at Lemesurier and Camano Points, were the best we could have hoped for in February. The only traffic was the Alaska Marine Highway ferry Malaspina passing us by. They make 16 knots to our 8, so we really didn't stand a chance in the race.
Coming into Tongass Narrows the water flattened out, but heavy overcast dimmed things down a bit. Here's a few of Ketchikan's facilities on this gray afternoon:
Alaska Ship and Drydock builds, repairs, and overhauls fishing boats to ferry boats and more.
Across Tongass Narrows on Gravina Island is Ketchikan International Airport. Yes, the airport is on a different island. An airport with a moat.
Back across on Revillagigedo Island, which Ketchikan sits on, are the ferry terminals.
The airport ferry departs every half hour to take passengers and vehicles across to the airport. Walk on passengers pay $5.25, and most vehicles are $6.30 to $10.50 depending on size. If you walk on then there is a little ways to lug your bags up the walkway/stairs to the airport building.
The mainline Alaska Marine Highway terminal is a busy place. Ferries connect Ketchikan to Bellingham, Washington and Prince Rupert, B.C. to the south, and to the rest of Southeast Alaska to the north.
From Ketchikan there is daily Alaska Marine Highway ferry service to Metlakatla on Annette Island, and there is Interisland Ferry Authority (IFA) service to Hollis on Prince of Wales Island. That is the green ferry. The M/V Stikine is 198 feet of going-to-a-cool-place! Drive your car or truck on to the ferry and three and a quarter hours later drive off on an island with eight drive-to communities and LOTS of roads!
We cruised past seaplane bases, businesses, small boat harbors, and cruise ship docks. It is comparatively quiet in the winter. Summertime brings the big cruise ships and the place bustles.
We called the Ketchikan harbormaster on VHF radio channel 16, and they gave us directions to moorage in Thomas Basin. Just to the south of Thomas Basin we could see the U.S. Coast Guard Station Ketchikan.
USCG Station Ketchikan is responsible for over 10,000 miles of coastline. Besides handling search and rescue they take care of navigation markers, conduct safety training, and more. Tours of the facility are available.
As we pulled into Thomas Basin the sun came out!
If you have ever looked out over a harbor and thought about how picturesque it was, here is the view back your way from the harbor.
This is the morning after we arrived. It snowed, as you can see above, and made the water surface slushy. too. The mergansers paddled around the harbor cutting trails in the slush.
Then one of them told a joke, and it was a good one.
I looked up the dock, up the ramp, and there, situated right beside the famous Potlatch Bar, is Union Machine Shop. Right there in the red building. How convenient is that for our anchor winch project?! Rod, Harley, and Tyler are going to install the hydraulic pump and fabricate the bow roller so that the anchor winch will work. More on that in a couple of days!
Welcome to Ketchikan!
A little history on the cabin here: Mack and Matties Cabin
More mergansers: Common Merganser
And more on Ketchikan soon!
Disclosure: I have not received any promotional consideration from any people, businesses, or products mentioned in this post.